Farmer sets himself on fire in Muzaffarnagar, rushed to hospital

BKU leader Naresh Tikait asks supporters to participate in tractor march on 26 and 27 February to condemn atrocities

BKU protests in Meerut on Wednesday (photo: PTI)
BKU protests in Meerut on Wednesday (photo: PTI)


A protesting farmer who tried to set himself on fire near a protest site in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar on Wednesday was rushed to a local hospital after the fire was doused in time by fellow agitators.

City magistrate Vikash Kashyap, who visited the hospital, said the farmer, Brijpal, had sustained "minor burn injuries" to his face and was tended to immediately. He said he was told that the farmer had a loan-related problem, which would be addressed soon.

Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) district president Yogesh Sharma said Brijpal — a native of Jitpur Ghari village of Muzaffarnagar district — tried to die by suicide because he was not finding a solution to his problem sand was worried about getting a notice from Punjab National Bank despite never having taken a loan from it.

Addressing farmers at a gathering in Muzaffarnagar collectorate, BKU leader Naresh Tikait asked supporters to participate in a tractor march on 26 and 27 February to condemn atrocities on their counterparts from Haryana and Punjab.

Hundreds of farmers from across districts staged a dharna at the collectorate in Muzaffarnagar. Tikait later submitted a memorandum of the farmers' demands to the district magistrate, to be sent to the President of India.

Farmers in Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh have been demanding a legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP), implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report, withdrawal of police cases against fellow agitators, justice for the victims of Lakhimpur Kheri violence, and a rise in sugarcane prices.

In UP's Ghaziabad, farmers staged a sit-in at the call of BKU leader Rakesh Tikait under the leadership of district president Bijendra Singh. Addressing the gathering, Bijendra Singh said the farmers were forced to demonstrate by the government which is not paying heed to their demand for MSP.

Farmers there handed over a 15-point memorandum to the administration, addressed to President Droupadi Murmu. The memorandum carried 15 demands of farmers, including a check on inflation, relaxation in railway fare for senior citizens, and free education.

Kavinagar ACP Abhishek Srivastav said "sufficient force" was deployed inside and outside the collectorate to prevent any "untoward incident".

Meanwhile, BKU national spokesperson Rakesh Tikait said if the government does not allow farmers to go to Delhi, the farmers will also not let them enter their villages during elections. He was speaking in Meerut, where farmers on Wednesday took out a tractor march to reach the collectorate.

Ahead of their march, authorities set up barriers at several places to prevent farmers from reaching the collector's office, but they were removed by the agitators.

"Placing nails on the road is not justified. If they put nails on our way, we will also do the same in our villages. We also have to barricade our villages. If they are not allowing us to reach Delhi, we will not let them enter our villages," Tikait told reporters when asked about obstacles such as iron nails being laid on roads to prevent farmers from reaching Delhi.

Tikait attacked the Centre saying the BJP-led government is only for industrialists. "If it were a farmers' government, a law guaranteeing MSP would have come into force."

He said a meeting of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) would be held on Thursday to deliberate on the future course of the farmers' agitation.

BKU district head Anurag Chaudhary said barricades were put up in three places to stop farmers, but they still reached the collectorate.

In Baghpat too, farmers took out tractor rallies and reached district headquarters at the SKM's call. District BKU president Pratap Gurjar said if their demands were not met, they will go for an indefinite sit-in and announce support to farmers of Punjab.

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